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What game are you watching?

BY Rob Eder

“So, who’s bigger—CVS or Walgreens?”

I was at the ECRM Disease State Management show in St. Petersburg, Fla., just a few weeks ago, when a supplier in one of our meetings asked me the question. It was a funny thing, really, and not just because CVS executives, that very day, were up in Little Canada, Minn., to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s 7,000th store; and not even because I knew that within a week, Walgreens would be cutting the ribbon on its 7,000th store. Or even because at the time, both companies already each operated more than 7,000 stores.

It’s because it really doesn’t matter anymore who has the most stores. That’s only one way to measure these companies—the stores are just one component of a much bigger healthcare play.

Think of it as a wheel: The stores are one spoke; the clinics are another; specialty pharmacy, another; mail-order, another; for CVS, a huge PBM is another; for Walgreens, a major presence in work-site care and home infusion is another spoke. The stores, in themselves, do not drive the wheel any more than any other single spoke on the wheel. Health care, and the delivery of it, is what drives the wheel. And that, ultimately, is how these two companies will come to be measured.

Just listen to what the leadership of these two companies has to say about it. Walgreens talks about leveraging 8,000 points of care. “With that foundation, we’re taking Walgreens directly to employers, government entities, managed care companies and PBMs,” Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson told analysts during a Sept. 28 earnings call. Its new deal with Caterpillar is a prime example of that.

So, who’s bigger? For the record, Walgreens was at 7,042 stores the day it celebrated in Brooklyn, N.Y. As of the date of this issue, CVS had 7,017 stores.

But if that’s the way you’re keeping score, you’re watching the wrong game, my friend.

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Late-stage clinical trial results: MS drug is effective

BY Alaric DeArment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. Patients taking an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis fared better than those taking placebo, according to late-stage clinical results presented Friday at a neurology conference.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals said MS patients taking Zenvia (dextromethorphan and quinidine) in 30 mg/10 mg doses experienced a 11.9% greater reduction in pseudobulbar effect – an MS-related condition also known as PBA that causes sudden, uncontrollable episodes of laughter, crying and other emotional outbursts – than those taking placebo in a 12-week phase 3 trial, results of which the company presented at the 3rd World Congress on Controversies in Neurology in Prague, Czech Republic. Patients taking the 20 mg/10 mg dose did not do better than the placebo group.

“PBA represents an area of high, unmet medical need with no FDA-approved treatments currently available,” study presenter and trial steering committee member Daniel Wynn of the Consultants in Neurology Multiple Sclerosis Center stated. “Although the involuntary emotional outbursts of PBA cause considerable impairment for millions of individuals in the United States, it is under-recognized and commonly misdiagnosed.”

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New report projects 12.6% increase of probiotics market

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The two takeaways from this story are “the [U.S.] market is expected to grow at a rate of almost 14%” and “the early movers in the industry will benefit in terms of market share.”

 

That about describes the opportunity in a probiotic nutshell.

 

 

The rising interest in probiotics can be credited in part to Dannon’s Activia brand, a line of yogurts and yogurt drinks, which has been heavily advertised to the American consumer with the message that not all bacteria is bad for you — and in fact some bacteria taken on a regular basis can impart some pretty significant health benefits. That advertising message — that probiotics can be an important piece in a healthier-for-you diet — has been all the more reinforced as Bayer supports its probiotic Phillips Colon Health, and as Procter & Gamble rolls out its Align probiotic.

 

 

And the consumers already are core drug store shoppers. The ratio of women to men in search of a product delivering digestive benefits is about 2-to-1, according to industry experts. When women hit their 30s and 40s, that’s the point in their lives when they’re looking for a strategy in life to help them manage their digestive issues.

 

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